In cats, hookworms are a common but very treatable parasite. Hookworms cling to the walls of a cat’s intestines and consume blood. When a cat ingests them or comes into contact with polluted dirt or excrement, they can enter the body and cause symptoms including diarrhea, anemia, and skin sores. Using a microscope to examine the stool, a veterinarian can detect a cat’s parasite problem and treat it with deworming drugs. For cats with early and appropriate treatment, the prognosis is good nonetheless, hookworms can be fatal if left untreated.
What Are Hookworms?
Internal parasites called hookworms cling to the intestinal wall and feed on the blood of cats. They have jaws that resemble hooks. This may result in your cat experiencing blood loss, anemia, and possibly even fatal internal bleeding. Because they resemble threads and are smaller than half an inch in length, hookworms are hard to identify with the unaided eye. The two types of hookworm that cats most frequently contract are Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Ancylostoma braziliense.
While some cats with hookworms clearly show symptoms, others do not. See your veterinarian if you observe your cat acting strangely or experiencing illness.
A wide range of symptoms, some less specific than others, can be caused by hookworms in cats. Your cat can have skin irritation or sores where the worm entered the body if it stepped on contaminated material and got hookworms. Hookworms cause infections in the digestive tract, which can lead to anemia from malnutrition, weight loss, and diarrhea in your cart. The worm may also cause internal bleeding in your cat, which could result in bloody, tarry stool.
What Causes Hookworms in Cats?
Hookworm larvae can enter a cat through eating or skin contact; they are primarily found in warm, humid settings.
Ingestion: Cats pick up hookworms by eating the larvae found in excrement and soil. Cats may unintentionally swallow larvae when they brush themselves or lick the ground. The larvae then enter the digestive tract and create an illness. Additionally, cats can consume hookworms by eating the carcass of an infected animal, such as a bug or mouse, or by drinking their mother’s milk.
Skin contact: By burrowing into a cat’s skin, commonly through a paw or the abdomen, hookworms can settle in the throat or lungs of the animal. A cat will cough up and swallow the worm after it has entered its lungs, allowing it to pass through to the colon. Cats are capable of Walk on infected dirt or excrement to come into contact with hookworms through skin contact.
How Vets Diagnose Hookworms in Cats
A veterinarian will identify hookworms by using a microscope to examine for eggs in a cat’s stool. Fecal flotation is the technique used for this examination, in which a sample of the cat’s excrement is combined with a solution that causes the hookworm eggs to float to the top. Once the eggs are identified, your veterinarian will run a battery of tests, including as a urinalysis and blood analysis.
How to Treat Hookworms in Cats
The typical course of treatment for hookworms in cats is a prescription for a deworming drug. In addition, your veterinarian could recommend fluids and nutrients to treat any iron shortage or dehydration brought on by the worms. Treatment is straightforward and efficient overall.
You should repeat treatment to remove hookworms as they mature since medications only affect hookworms in the intestines and not their migratory larvae. The age and health of your cat will determine how many treatments are required.
Prognosis for Cats With Hookworms
Cats with hookworms have a favorable prognosis with prompt diagnosis and treatment. The blood loss brought on by the hookworms, particularly in kittens, can be lethal if a cat is not treated.
How to Prevent Hookworms
Although there isn’t a vaccination against hookworms in cats, you can reduce your cat’s risk of getting the parasite by taking preventative steps. Using a monthly deworming pill, cleaning your cat’s litter box frequently and thoroughly, practicing excellent sanitation, and being mindful in areas where worms might be present are the main ways to achieve this.
Are Hookworms Contagious to Humans?
Not just cats can contract hookworm larvae, but also people. Although the hookworm larvae in humans do not mature into adult hookworms, they can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and itching. The term “cutaneous larva migrans” (CLM) describes this disorder. The skin shows elevated, red marks associated with CLM, although these symptoms normally go away on their own without medical intervention. Although they are uncommon in people, hookworms are best avoided by keeping your cat safe from them.
Can I get hookworms from my cat?
Hookworms can be indirectly, but not directly, acquired from your cat. Stepping on your cat’s contaminated excrement can expose you to the parasite, but petting or kissing your cat won’t give it to you.
Are hookworms expensive to treat?
Fortunately, treating hookworms is not too expensive. There are several of inexpensive over-the-counter dewormers available.
Is there a vaccine for hookworms?
Although there is no known cure for hookworms, keeping your cat clean and using a monthly dewormer can reduce your cat’s risk of getting the parasite.